Social Media & Conferences: 11 Great Ideas That Work

Here are 11 practical ideas to harness the potential of social media at your next conference or event.
Nov 8, 2010 2:09 PM ET

Realized Worth Blog

At the conferences I attend or present at each year (incidentally, you can see my upcoming gigs here: speaking schedule), its fascinating to see the efforts to integrate social media into nearly every aspect of the event. Some do it very well - and others.....well, others don't even offer complimentary wifi.

Every once in awhile, the social media savvy of an event is impressive. In New York City this past June, The National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) gave the conference world a great example of how to do it right. Here's what I mean: NCVS wanted to see representatives from the non-profit sector in attendance. Typically, people who work at non-profit organizations don't have a ton of cash to put toward travel and conference fees. Understanding this, NCVS they’ve made it a priority to maximize the opportunities for virtual participation through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and much, much more (see the list below).  Those not able to make it to NCVS were able to see almost everything and dialogue with almost everyone throughout the conference. (Admittedly, there were a few attendees who hadn’t heard of social media yet - they kind of missed out.)

So, if you’re wondering how to utilize the opportunities that social media affords, the good folks at NCVS (@HeyJK  and her team) have outlined this excellent list (that actually works):
  LIVE WEBCAST (and later, cool videos): If you couldn’t make the conference, you had the opportunity to follow along via live webcasts. Even better, all that great content is still available on the site. Check out a couple of NCVS videos, It's Up to YOU! Opening Plenary Session or Here's to YOU! Inspiration Event.   FACEBOOK: You could automatically follow along by just pressing the "Like" button on the Conference Facebook page.  Anyone who "Liked" the page would soon see all the official wall posts showing up in their personal Facebook news feed. You could also post your own ideas, questions or thoughts for everyone else to see on the Conference Facebook Page.   READ THE REST OF THE LIST HERE.   Most importantly, these options worked because the NCVS social media team took the following steps:
  1. Clearly listed the options to participate on social media

  2. Offered simple instructions with live links

  3. Partnered with groups like the Extraordinaries to do more than they could do by themselves

  4. Created the necessary groups and identities for people to easily and quickly join

  5. Participated themselves and encouraged everyone who jumped in

  6. Maintained the platforms and ensured the information and good thinking generated throughout the conference remained available after everything was over

  7. Continue to nurture the relationships and connections coming out of the event

  8. Last but not least, they were willing to try new things (even if they might not work)

Any other good social media tools that conferences should be considering using? I’d love to hear about them!